Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases

What is juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis isn’t one condition, but is the general name for many types of arthritis that can occur in children. Arthritis is caused by swelling of the joints. It can cause pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Some types of juvenile arthritis can also affect the skin, muscles, eyes and gastrointestinal tract.

Because juvenile arthritis comes in many different forms, it can be mild or severe.

What are the types of juvenile arthritis?

The most common type of juvenile arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA is arthritis with no known cause (this is what “idiopathic” means). There are six main subtypes of JIA: 

  • oligoarticular, involves four joints or fewer
  • polyarticular, involves five or more joints
  • systemic, begins with fevers, rashes and inflammation in other parts of the body as well as the joints
  • psoriatic arthritis, an inflammation of the joints that occurs in some children with the skin condition psoriasis
  • enthesitis-related arthritis, an inflammation of the entheses, the places where tendons and ligaments attach to bones
  • undifferentiated, a type that doesn’t fit into any one of the categories above

Other types of juvenile arthritis include:

What are the symptoms of juvenile arthritis?

The signs and symptoms can vary, depending on what type of juvenile arthritis your child has.

Some of the most common symptoms of juvenile arthritis include swelling of a joint, along with stiffness and pain. Symptoms often affect the hands, feet, and knees. Other signs include: 

  • limping, especially in the morning
  • clumsiness
  • swelling in the lymph nodes 
  • high fever
  • skin rash

Symptoms may get better or disappear completely for periods of time (remission), and then flare up at other times.

What are the causes of juvenile arthritis?

There is often no known cause for juvenile arthritis. In some cases, it is caused by an autoimmune disease.

How we care for juvenile arthritis

At the Boston Children’s Hospital Rheumatology Program, our team of pediatric rheumatologists specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of inflammatory disorders, including juvenile arthritis. We are also recognized internationally for the evaluation of unique and undiagnosed rheumatologic conditions.

Paired with our clinical expertise is an interest in making sure that our care is informed by the latest research and educating our patients and their families about their condition and its treatment.